23 November, 2003 – intergenerational Thanksgiving
"How Hare Built Her Hut"
adapted by Erika Hewitt from the story
(printed in Our Seven Principles in Story and Verse)
*Opening Hymn #368, Now Let Us Sing
Story Opening – Storyteller
Many years ago, before we were born, before our grandmothers and grandfathers were born, and before our grandmothers’ grandmothers were born, no one lived in towns or villages. Instead, everyone just set up a hut any old place. It was a trifle inconvenient, but it never occurred to anyone to live in any other way. No one noticed that having people’s huts scattered here and there made things a little lonely. All of that changed when Hare built her hut.
Hare lived in a corner of the world far away from where we live today, over mountains and oceans and treetops, on the edge of a forest. Monkey also lived there; these two creatures had put their huts near each other under the shadow of the forest. Hare was happy with her small but comfortable hut. It gave her a cozy place to sleep at night, and a place to eat her greens when she got hungry.
Monkey’s hut was the same size as Hares, but Monkey was NOT happy with his hut. He thought that it was too crowded, and not very pretty. Monkey’s hut had holes in the roof that let the baobab pods and fireflies in. Of course, baobab pods and fireflies are both lovely and so it’s not a bother to have them in one’s hut. But that’s how Monkey was: a little grouchy and a little gruff.
Welcome – Worship Leader
Good morning! Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos. My name is Erika Hewitt, and I serve as the minister of this intergenerational congregation, who span 9 decades. Like Monkey, maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and feel a little grouchy and a little gruff. We welcome you however you’re feeling, and hope that our intergenerational Thanksgiving service brightens your spirits.
Let’s meet our visitors.... greet each other ... ring Tibetan bowl
The sound of the Tibetan bowl is the gateway into our hour together. Our Storyteller and our Players share their gifts with you this morning in the spirit of celebration and playfulness, but this story also comes to you in the spirit of "worship" – worth - shape – giving shape to the things that have worth to us as a religious community. The story "How Hare Built Her Hut" is just one shape, one form, of our shared values.
Chalice Lighting – Worship Leader
We light this chalice this morning for the beauty of the earth: baobab pods and fireflies, bright orange pumpkins and warm fires, the mountains that rise up behind this building, and the new moon that rises above those mountains. We light this chalice for the beauty of this company, these familiar faces and new friends, and the hands that form an ever-expanding circle of joy, love, and peace.
One day, when Monkey was sitting in his hut thinking grumpily about how small it was, a big baobab pod fell in through one of the holes in the roof... and – thump! – fell right on Monkey’s head. That did it; the pod that thumped Monkey on the head was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Monkey decided then and there to set up a new hut that would be the biggest and grandest ever made – with a sturdy roof, to boot. He searched out a good site near sweet water and in the cool shade of an enormous baobab tree and set out to build the strong-roofed hut. In time it was finished, and it was indeed grand. It was enormously tall and its walls were white and bright and decorated with the most wonderful designs: zigzags and spirals and circles.
Monkey was proud of his new hut and decided to have a feast to show it off. He went around to all of the other huts and invited everyone – even Hare. And everyone came and admired Monkey’s hut and then stayed to have a good time – that is, everyone except Hare, who didn’t bother to come at all.
Throughout today’s service, we will sing refrains to the tune of "We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder." Please sing with me the first sung response, printed in your OOS.
For such beauty we are thankful. For such beauty we are thankful.
For such beauty we are thankful. Praises to this world.
The next day Monkey, who was insulted by Hare’s not coming to the feast, went to her and angrily demanded to know why she hadn’t come to admire the grand new hut.
"Grand new hut! Bah!" snorted Hare. "Why should I come to see your hut? I could build a better one in half the time. And as for your feast, why should I come to your feast and be bored? I could give a feast that would make everyone forget yours."
Monkey’s feelings were hurt by Hare’s words, but he didn’t say so. Part of him wanted to be tough, and to give Hare a hard time. So Monkey stepped back and with a smug smile, said, "All right. It took me a full moon to build a decorate my hut. You have half a moon. And your feast had better be a good one. As for me, I expect that my winter robe will be made of Hare skin."
Monkey left, feeling not very good about the mean things he said to Hare, but still hurt that she didn’t want to celebrate his new hut. He wondered how Hare would be able to build her hut. He didn’t want a winter robe of Hare skin! He went back to his grand hut, feeling uneasy and very lonely.
But Hare had taken Monkey’s threat to heart. Worried, Hare scratched her head and said to herself, "You’ve really done it this time, Hare. When will you learn to keep your big mouth shut?" And she sat down to think about what on earth she was going to do.
Just like Monkey and Hare, sometimes we say things that we don’t mean. Like Monkey, we allow our hurt feelings to turn into harsh words. Like Hare, we don’t see how much other people need us to be kind to them. We forget that it’s important to tell our friends and neighbors how we’re feeling, and to listen to what they say back to us.
One of the reasons that our sharing of joys and sorrows is so important is that it allows us to stop, every week, and show the soft side of our hearts. It helps us remember that everybody – even gruff, grumpy people – feel sad sometimes. We listen to remember that the joys and sorrows in life are sometimes woven together so closely that there’s no separation.
If there’s a happy celebration in your life, or a sad weight in your heart, this is the time to come forward and talk about it. Please light a candle, then tell us your name, and share your joy or sorrow.
Meditation in Words and Silence – Worship Leader
Spirit of the baobab trees and fireflies, Spirit that blows down from the mountain and burns up through the fire, we give thanks for the people in this sanctuary. They have strong arms to hold us when we need a hug. They have a steady presence when our lives are shaken. They remind us to be wise with our words, generous with our actions, and thankful for the gifts in our lives. May we each be the person we want to be, and in so doing may we become the Fellowship we want to become.
Please sing our meditation with me:
If I stumble, will you help me? If I stumble, will you help me?
If I stumble, will you help me? We are climbing on.
Hare was still stumped as to how to get out of her predicament: she had half a moon to build a hut more beautiful than Monkey’s. She was not strong enough to build a hut by herself. She did not have enough ginger root stored up to trade with others for their labor. What could she do? Do you have any ideas?
(Hare asks for ideas from the congregation.)
Well, this is what happened: Suddenly Hare had an idea and jumped up and ran to all of the other huts scattered across the land to ask everyone to come and help her. To get them to come, she promised everyone two marvelous, unheard-of gifts and a wonderful feast when all the work was finished. All they had to do was come live near her, and help her for half a moon.
The people came in, one family at a time, and Hare showed them where to set up their huts. When everyone had arrived, they set to work. They talked to find out what they each did best. The best workers on wood found, straightened, and set the poles; the best painters mixed and painted the walls; the best artists set to decorating them; and all the others began to prepare the food and drink for the feast.
In short, Hare managed to get everyone else to do all the work. While everyone else was working, she searched around and found a hollow log and a couple of sticks. And then she spent the entire half moon fiddling around with her log and sticks.
Sung Response: On and on the circle’s moving, On and on the circle’s moving,
On and on the circle’s moving, sisters, brothers, all.
At the end of the half moon, Monkey came back, certain that he would find Hare in a mess of construction, with no hut to show off. But Hare surprised him: She had a new hut! There it was, looking very much like Monkey’s.
"And just how is this better than my hut?" demanded Monkey.
"Just look around, and you’ll see," said Hare.
And there arrayed around Hare’s hut were the huts of all the people, arranged in a circle, all facing east, to the rising sun. And there were all the people, going about their business, laughing and talking and helping each other.
"My hut is better than yours," said Hare, "because it was built by everyone and everyone lives near it, where I can have my fun with them."
The people, who heard all of this, looked around and realized that it really is sweet to live together, sharing, helping, knowing each other. They didn’t have to live, scattered apart from each other and lonely! They could be a community! And that was Hare’s first gift: the village.
Sung Refrain: Strong is what we make each other, Strong is what we make each other,
Strong is what we make each other, sisters, brothers, all.
Offertory – Worship Leader
Like those who helped Hare build her hut, we need to remember to stop and look around our own community once in a while. Take a good around right now, and look at the people you’ve helped, the people you’ve learned with, broken bread with, and shared with. It really is sweet to live together, and it really is a gift to make a village of our Fellowship, where we make each other strong. This isn’t just one of Hare’s gifts; it’s a gift that we’ve all received.
As we gather this morning’s offering, allow your joy for this community to deepen your level of giving back to this Fellowship..... we will now collect the morning offering.
And all the people ran to get the food and drink that they had prepared. Did you bring food for the feast?
(Children collect canned goods from the congregation and bring it to the chancel.)
There was lots and lots of food to feast on! And because no one had to do it all, each could contribute what he or she cooked best, so the feast had everyone’s favorite foods. And that made everyone happy, which, of course, let the storytellers relax and tell their best stories. As the people ate, they offered their food to Monkey. He was surprised at first, but then began to relax when he saw that the others just wanted him to feel welcome, and wanted to share with him.
And so Monkey stayed with the new village as the sun dropped from high in the sky to just below the tree tops – that’s how long the gathering lingered over stories and fine foods.
Suddenly, Hare remembered that she hadn’t yet shared her second gift. She slipped away and then came out of her new hut dragging her hollow log and sticks.
Hare said, "So far this has been a pretty good feast, but I want to make it the best feast ever given. And it’s also time for my second gift. Be quiet and listen."
With that, Hare picked up her sticks and began to tap on the log with them. At first she beat out a simple rhythm, and then she warmed up to more and more complex rhythms. Soon the people began to twitch with the rhythm and sway and move. Other people found logs, and empty baobab pods, and joined Hare in her rhythms.
Suddenly Monkey jumped up and began to swing his body and move in a circle around the fire, and before long everyone joined him, dancing to the rhythm of the drum Hare had invented and given to them.
Drumming & dancing
This is one of the songs that Hare taught the village to sing:
*Closing Hymn – This Little Light of Mine (#118)
DRUMMING ! SINGING ! DANCING !
Now sometimes folks argue about all of this. Some say that Hare really gave the people three gifts – the village, the drum, and music – while others claim that the music and drum are really only one. Perhaps the real gift was that grouchy and gruff Monkey discovered that he could be one of the village. But you know what I think? I think that it hardly matters, though I’m sure Hare enjoys the argument.
*Benediction – Worship Leader
May we be mindful of the many gifts that come into our lives, in all their forms,
and give thanks. But may we also choose to believe that our greatest gift is found
not in what the world gives us, but what we give to it. Go in peace.